Here's what Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had to say about the Chargers this week as they travel to the West Coast to face the Bolts on Halloween.
On Justin Herbert
"It's because he's really good. Yeah. He's really good. I thought he was outstanding. He just really had everything you're looking for. He's very athletic. Good arm. A lot of poise. Played well in Oregon. Just a number of big plays. All the passes. All the throws, but extended plays, scrambles, could run the read-zone and all that. He's as good a quarterback as I've seen come out here in quite a while, especially as it fits the pro game. I don't think you're going to find too many better than him. This guy is really an impressive player. I thought he was really good when we played them last year, and, luckily, we had a pretty good day, but I'm not counting on that again. I have a ton of respect for him. I think he's going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league for a long time to come."
On Herbert's ability to scramble outside of the pocket
"They'll bring him out three, four, five times a game. They're not running quarterback sweeps and that kind of thing. They probably could, but he'll extend plays if their receivers are covered, which they're usually not, but in some instances where they are, he's able to escape in the pocket and run for a first down or extend the play. He's had a couple of extended plays, kind of like [Zach] Wilson. We talked about Wilson last week. He has a couple extended plays where he throws 20, 30, 40-yard plays. He's got good vision, but he's athletic. He can run. He can get out of the pocket. He's no statue back there, that's for sure. Very accurate and can make all the throws."
On Chargers head coach Brandon Staley
"Kind of interesting to get a look at the Chargers this year and kind of see the transformation from where they were last year to this year. Coach Staley's obviously come in there and done a great job with creating confidence and I'd say a lot of positive momentum on the team. They are a very good team and they've improved in a lot of areas. Defensively we saw what [Staley] did with the Rams last year, we got a real good look at it, they were one of the best defenses we saw. They had a great year, they are really well coached and he's carried that over to this year with the Chargers."
On the weapons on the Chargers offense
"Offensively, they've got just a great group of skill players. [Justin] Herbert had a great year last year. He's doing the same thing this year, and it's the big four there with [Keenan] Allen, [Mike] Williams, [Jared] Cook, and [Austin] Ekeler. They're all a problem. They're all out there a lot. They can hit you with big plays. They're good catch-and-run players. They're good in the intermediate passing game. Ekeler's good in the running game. They've got multiple tight ends and wide receivers. They even have [Joshua] Palmer in there, so they've got a very good group of skill players, and certainly a quarterback that can get the ball to any of them anywhere, and he can extend out of the pocket.
"He's had several big plays on boots, scrambles, and that kind of thing where the play doesn't look like much, and then he turns it into something. They're a very explosive group. Really can score from anywhere on the field. Williams ran right through Cleveland for whatever it was, a 75-yard touchdown. Long play. They lead the league in fourth quarter scoring, so that's a problem. They just keep going for the whole game. You might hold them down for a while, but they've been able to put up a lot of points at the end of the game, which is a good thing for them. Bad thing for everybody else."
On signing Andre Roberts and Dustin Hopkins
"The kicking game, certainly a lot of improvement there. Obviously, this week they made two really strong moves to address the kicking game. I think that just speaks to the importance of it and the commitment they have to it this year. [Andre] Roberts and [Dustin] Hopkins are two big additions to that group that they've acquired this week to go with the other core players. They've done a good job there. Coach [Derius] Swinton's come in, and they certainly have an element of running surprise-type plays. They're a team you've just got to be alert for that they, in the past, with where he's been, we played him when he was in San Francisco with Coach [Jeff] Rodgers in Arizona. Chicago in the past. If you're sleeping, they'll nail you, so you've got to be very alert against them, and we'll have to do a good job of their ball handling and ball security and, obviously, coverage on Roberts. That'll be, like it always with him, that's a major problem."
On the Chargers new group of offensive lineman this season
"They've got five new starters on the offensive line, lost a couple guys there with [Bryan] Bulaga and [Oday] Aboushi. They got Slater obviously in the first round, signed four free agents on the offensive line plus Cook so they put a new group together there. Like I said with a couple injuries there it probably isn't where they want it to be, but you can definitely see what they are doing. This is a good football team that's well coached and that's got good leadership, I've been really impressed with where they are and the job that coach Staley has done…gonna be a big challenge for us this week."
On Chargers safety Derwin James
"Yeah. Definitely. Again, he can ruin a game. He's very instinctive. Fast. Quick. Good tackler. Smart player. You've got to be ready to block him behind the line of scrimmage and on our side of the line of scrimmage, but he sees things quickly and reacts quickly. He's a hard guy to block, especially at the second level, and with the guys they have in front of him, you start trying to get through to him, and then you're a little light on somebody on the line of scrimmage, and that doesn't always work out well either. He's a very productive player."
Check out the best photos from the Bolts Wednesday practice at Hoag Performance Center.
On what he's seen from Brandon Staley's defense
"He's put together a very aggressive front, depending on how you want to call it. There's a lot of five linemen, and you don't see that a lot. They've got a lot of hard guys to block at the line of scrimmage, similar to what he did with the Rams. Some different personnel, obviously, using a player like [Joey] Bosa, who's one of the top players in the league, [Derwin] James, guys like that. He's done a good job of putting them in position to be even more disruptive than they would normally be just by moving them around, especially Bosa, forcing the single blocks that he gets. This guy's hard to block, and this guy's a really good player.
On the Chargers secondary
"It's a good, solid secondary. It's a solid defense all the way through. They're good up front. They're good at the second level. They're good in the back end. They have a very sound scheme. They make you earn it. It's hard to earn it, but they definitely don't make it easy on you. You've got to string a lot of good plays together. You're going to have to convert some third downs. They get you in a kind of long-yardage situation on third down. They've converted most of those, and they're as good as any team in the league. It'll be a challenge for us, and they've done a good job turning the ball over. They're, whatever it is, plus three or four in turnovers, but more important than that, they're like plus 30 points. They've turned the ball over and scored touchdowns. The other team has turned the ball over and kicked field goals or got nothing out of it, so those have really been big swing situations that have come up in their games. They've done really well with that. That's definitely a sign of good coaching."
Chargers post-snap movement on defense
"They do a good job of matching routes. What looks like zone or what looks like some space closes very quickly in the passing game, and, again, they're very well-coached. They do a good job of, as the pattern develops, they just pounce on it. It really plays like man-to-man, but it's not man-to-man, but it turns out to be man-to-man. Those are challenging for the receivers and the quarterback because the match zones are tough. If teams can do a good job matching zones, like the Chargers do, then that puts a lot of pressure on the offense."
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